Last Friday, March 26th, was my parents's 27th wedding anniversary. My dad wanted to celebrate it at his trusted Blue Mango Thai restaurant, but I had other idea. Being a vegetarian, it's difficult to find a good restaurant. And since we almost never go out to eat, I don't even know any restaurant that I would want to go. I suggested that I would cook instead. I saw this recipe while watching Giada's Everyday Italian last December with my grandma and have been wanting to test it since.
This recipe calls for fontina cheese, which I have never had before. Fortunately Whole Foods's incredible cheese section has every kind of cheese imaginable. There are apparently two types of fontina, a Danish one and an Italian one, and you need the Italian one--fontina d'aosta. I modified this recipe a little to suit my own flavors. I omitted the peas and the onions because I didn't have any peas on hand, and I really don't like cooked unions. I also added 1/2 cup more of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the top layer formed a wonderfully delicious cheese crust. My mom took the leftover for lunch today and asked me to grate her some more cheese on top! Overall I am very happy with this recipe, as I do with almost all of Giada's recipes!
Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
- 2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
- 2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 cremini mushrooms, halved
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 3 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
- 1 cup grated fontina cheese
- 1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.
In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.
Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.